The Different Claims Sectors a Lawyer Can Specialise InJanuary 14, 2024
The Future Lawyer Weekly Briefing – W/C 15th January 2024January 15, 2024
By Karen Manu.
Reading time: four minutes
A good mentor is key to a transformational legal journey.
The importance of great mentorships
Navigating the legal world as a first or second-year law student can be overwhelming and sometimes lonely. Especially if you grew up without access to prior legal knowledge or network.
For most students, their first exposure to a legal network will come during their first year in university or later. However, the beauty of mentorship bridges the gap between the unknown of what is to come and prepares students with knowledge, skills and confidence to excel.
Having a mentor is essential for three reasons:
1. They understand you and your journey – The great thing about having a mentor is that they carry valuable insights into the journey you’re embarking on. They understand the weight of having to apply for vacation schemes or training contracts and will be able to understand how you are feeling. Aside from that, they have legal expertise and knowledge that is beyond what you can read on law firm websites. For example, your mentor might be able to inform you about the culture at a law firm or barristers’ chambers.
2. They want to see you win – Having the right mentor can be extremely encouraging. As a first or second-year law student, it can be very easy to compare yourself to other candidates. However, having the right person in your corner to cheer you on and remind you of your potential will keep you going when things gets tough. In the moments you want to throw in the towel or give up, they stand as a light. They will be able to share encouragement when you’re dealing with rejection and need to build your resilience.
3. They are a reminder of where you want to be – Having a well-established legal professional reminds you of your end goal. They embark on your journey with you and celebrate moments you would’ve spoken about when you first met. When you got your first interview, when you secured your first vacation scheme or when you started your training contract.
The benefits of having a great mentor are limitless and it doesn’t stop when you start your training contract either. This is because a lot of mentors become clients or even friends. Great mentorships turn into lifetime connections and mentorships that are specifically curated for the purpose of diversity and inclusion (D&I) has an even greater impact.
Transformative mentorship programmes and their impact on D&I
These mentorships create a pipeline for students from a diverse background who have been deprived of opportunities through no fault of their own. This is sometimes due to unfortunate circumstances or simply through lack of knowledge and access to opportunities. Joining mentorship programmes in your first or second-year can create a relationship and support system for the rest of your legal career.
• Grow Mentoring;
• Aspiring Solicitors;
• Browne Jacobson REACH Mentoring;
• Aspiring Solicitors Black Talent Mentoring Scheme;
• ELEVEATE Clifford Chance; and
• First-Year Scheme Reed Smith.
Mentoring schemes through organisations such as Aspiring Solicitors help their diverse members “secure on average 500 Training Contracts a year”. Moreover, since 2014, its year of origin, “has assisted over 7,500 diverse individuals to secure vacation schemes and training contracts”.
This feedback conveys how transformative the right mentorship can be to the future of those who come from a diverse background. This also illustrates how much potential and greatness are in candidates from diverse backgrounds. If only the right people were to take the time to pour into them and show them how to capitalise on what they already have.
Having someone that can show you how to sell your best self is essential to a successful legal career. It can open doors, break barriers and create a confidence in you that you never knew you had.
Finding a mentor is good but finding the right mentor is like a match made in heaven. It is important to find someone who is open to understanding where you’ve been and where you’re going. Especially mentorship in programmes that are made with diversity and inclusion in mind. They are aware of your disadvantages and struggles and are dedicated to equipping you with the tools to succeed regardless. It might take a while, but the right person will be the perfect fit.